Breakthroughs in a Fortnight?

Is it possible to generate a breakthrough idea or accomplishment for your business or career in two weeks?

Is there an instruction manual to tell you how?

Is it less than 100 pages, so you can get started right away?

Yes. Yes. And no, you'll have to slog through 103 pages.

Management consultant and breakthrough catalyzer Lisa Haneberg wrote Two Weeks to a Breakthrough to document the program of the same name that she has been refining over the last ten years.

This book is a gem on many levels. First, it is brief enough that you can take in the entire program in one sitting. Second, it provides both the context for the program and specific day-by-day instructions of how to execute the program. Third, while the program is specific in actions, they can be used in nearly any context, business or personal. Fourth, the author provides comments from program participants - both positive and negative - to give you a sense of how it has worked for others. She even includes a two-week journal of one of her participants.

I particularly liked the chapter on goal setting. Haneberg goes beyond the SMART approach and brilliantly outlines steps for defining life-changing, breakthrough-level goals that aren't simply fantasy. This chapter alone is worth the investment.

The actual breakthrough process revolves around varying daily practice in three areas: sharing your goal, taking action toward it, and making requests. Lisa gives suggestions on how to do each of these, including making seemingly unreasonable requests, and on how to generate the number and variety of shares, actions, and requests you'll need for the program.

So if you're looking to make a breakthrough and are willing to put a few dozen hours into it over a couple of weeks, get Two Weeks to a Breakthrough. You can also learn more about the program at the blog of the same name, or click on Saggy the Terrified CactusTM below to watch an excellent 26-minute webinar on the topic:


[Note: review originally published at BusinessPundit]

posted by Mike at 8:21 AM 0 comments


All That Is Necessary for the Triumph of Evil Is For Good Men to Do Nothing

Much has been written about Kathy Sierra's post Death Threats Against Bloggers are NOT "Protected Speech". I find it difficult to think of what I can add, yet the ethos expressed in the title of this post compels me to try.

I have had someone I love suffer harassment. It hurts more than just one person, and the terror is real. What disturbs me most about the responses of Chris Locke and others is the pride they have in the "You Own Your Own Words" ethos; that they have no responsibility as a community member to condemn acts such as death threats. This is anarchy, pure and simple.

If any good comes of this whole affair, it will be that the MeanKids/BobsYourUncle communities have given us two valuable experiments in practical anarchy, and in each case showed that anarchy breeds escalating evil. It sickens me that this long- and bloodily-discredited meme continues to infect healthy minds.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Kathy and everyone else involved in this situation; hopefully the title lesson will be learned and remembered by all.

posted by Mike at 7:53 PM 4 comments


Lucid Awakenness

Have you ever had a lucid dream - one in which you were consciously aware that you were dreaming? What triggered the realization?

The first key to controlling your dreams is to be able to recognize when you are dreaming. The simplest technique for doing this is called reality testing. It consists of creating a habit of regularly doing some simple test, such as looking at a piece of paper with a simple saying on it, or looking at a digital watch. This habit will carry over to your dream state, but when you reread the paper a couple of times, or look at your watch twice during a dream, the saying or time will change between readings. Recognizing this inconsistency triggers the realization that you're dreaming.

Once you realize what's going on, you can start to take control. You can fly. You can have lunch with historical figures. You can do the impossible. Not all at once, but you can work up to it with concentration and practice. And while you may have had other wonderful dreams in your life, they probably pale in comparison to the shortest, simplest lucid dream. Am I right?

I think there is a parallel effect during our awake time. Most of us go through life reacting to what comes at us, often acting without conscious decision using patterns of behavior we've built over a lifetime. It may be a pleasant existence or a nightmare, but we don't ever bother to do the reality check that could get us to the next level of living.

What is that reality check? I think it's this: On a regular basis, ask yourself two questions: Who am I? What am I doing here?

When addressing "Who am I?", you should answer by stating your core beliefs, your identity. This will take some introspection, and if you're like me, the first few several attempts will be unsatisfactory. But until you can write down an answer you feel comfortable with, it won't help you with lucid awakeness. Similarly, your answer to "What am I doing here?" needs to address your central beliefs and goals. As an example, I would expect Lisa Haneberg to answer "I am catalyzing breakthroughs for individuals and organizations", not "I am riding my motorcycle to a book signing in Wenatchee". Focusing on purpose and beliefs allows us to calibrate when we're running on autopilot. And to then choose to take greater control of our lives. Like learning to fly during lucid dreaming, our ability to change our lives doesn't happen instantly. But we can build skills to do the impossible. It's the focus - the lucidity - that makes all the difference.

So answer those questions. Who are you? What are you doing here? Write down your answers, and make a habit of doing the reality check regularly (multiple times a day to start). Then notice when your actions are out of alignment with your original answer, and choose lucid awakenness.

posted by Mike at 8:54 AM 4 comments


The Great Global Warming Swindle

Channel 4 Documentary: The Great Global Warming Swindle.

I was sorely tempted to title this post "Young Martin Durkin comments on Emperor Al's new Clothes", but the BBC's original title for the documentary is perfect. I had heard about this film from several sources, but hadn't made the time to watch it. Foolish me! Twenty years from now, this work will be remembered as a pivot point in the greatest global conversation of this century, much as the child's remarks about the naked emperor changed a kingdom's conversation.

Part grade-school science lesson, part "what's driving this debate" (hint: follow the money), part "how to swindle the world", this film is engaging, entertaining, and educational. The first third of the show, covering the science of global warming is particularly good, explaining the historical record and atmospheric science in terms that anyone, including grade-schoolers and those of us who have forgotten most of what we learned in grade school, can easily grasp. I can only add one thing to the thorough treatment of the show: extraterrestrial warming. This half hour will profoundly change the way you think about the topic of global warming.

The rest of the film may just make you sick. It carefully documents how the debate got out of hand over the past several years, and how laughably shaky theories became global conventional wisdom. Like the tale of the emperor's new clothes, it's one of vanity and greed and "going along to get along" on a massive scale.

This film might just be the small child's voice that gets the global villagers talking...

posted by Mike at 12:29 PM 6 comments


Kathy Sierra's Seven Blog Virtues (for a Global Microbrand)

She Who Must Not Be PhotoshoppedTM has created a marvelous PDF of her slides for a panel at SXSW that focused on Hugh McLeod's Global Microbrand concept.

If you're not catblogging, you'll be inspired by this presentation. In January of last year, I said her Crash Course in Learning Theory was the best blog content of 2006, and is still a document I regularly review when creating my own materials. The Seven Virtues presentation may be the analog for blogging. It certainly embodies all of the virtues itself! My favorite slide: the screaming saguaro cactus in a lightning storm. It reminds me of why I enjoy monsoon season here in Phoenix so much. We get those displays of nature's wonder regularly.

Now go read the whole thing. You have no better way to spend the next five minutes.

posted by Mike at 10:09 PM 0 comments


Islam, Christianity, IBM, Microsoft

Prince wannabe Dan at tdaxp (Prince had an unpronounceable symbol, Dan has an unpronounceable 5-letter moniker) writes a brilliant post about how the relationship of IBM and Microsoft in the computer industry mirrors the relationship of Islam and Christianity over the centuries.

I kid you not, and it is brilliant.

This isn't a "Oh yeah, why didn't I see that?" kind of post. It's the kind of post that requires you to rewire many synapse connections to understand. It might make your brain hurt (my initial reaction), but it will increase your understanding of both business and world history. What more can you ask for?

(Yes, I know. Tastes like chocolate and only costs a dollar. Sorry, no flavor requests and the post is free!)

posted by Mike at 8:55 PM 0 comments


Doing Only What's Humanly Possible

Liz Strauss has a must-read post for busy people over at Successful Blog. Please go read the whole thing. Here are two quotes to entice you:
"Go on home. You’re tired. You’ll come back tomorrow and in the first hour you’ll accomplish three times what you would do in the next hour now."

"Remember that you can only do what’s humanly possible. . . . and to think you can do more makes you a kind of snob [big grin here], because the rest of us humans can’t."
That first one is so true (although, as a morning person, I may be biased)!

posted by Mike at 6:32 AM 2 comments


Handicapping the Carr-Benkler Wager

Will Web 2.0 initiatives eventually be dominated by paid participants? Yochia Benkler and Nicholas Carr have a wager on it:
"In a critique of Benkler's work last summer, business writer Nicholas Carr speculated that Web 2.0 media sites like Digg, Flickr and YouTube are able to rely on volunteer contributions simply because a market has yet to emerge to price this "new kind of labor." He and Benkler then entered into what has come to be widely known in Web circles as the "Carr-Benkler wager": a bet on whether, by 2011, such sites will be driven primarily by volunteers or by professionals."
As a service to BusinessPundit and Spooky Action readers, I handicap the wager:
"The parallels between the positions of Carr and Benkler on this issue and Carr and the IT community with respect to IT Doesn't Matter are striking. The proponents of the new technology say "We are dealing with new and unprecedented things!", to which Carr's basic reply is "The things may be new, but the people dealing with them have dealt with other new things repeatedly in the past, with very predictable behaviors." Technology changes quickly, but our brains do not. We are running the same 'wetware' as our ancient ancestors. Certain behavior patterns have been noted consistently for thousands of years. I think one of those patterns was expressed nicely by Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. The challenge for Benkler and company is that you have to climb a good way up the hierarchy to get to the needs that common-based peer production projects can satisfy. Throughout history, people who have gotten to those levels have been very successful people. And they have been successful people who specialized in doing a small number of things extremely well and employing others to do the rest. We are fortunate to live in a time where more people than ever are at these levels, and what are some of the fastest growing sectors of the economy? Personal services! Self-actualizers are prodigious buyers of cleaning services; they buy food prepared for them by rent-a-chefs (even if it's chef Ray Kroc); they have personal trainers and life coaches. They will pay for quality services, sometimes in barter; sometimes in cash."
As they say "Read the whole thing", if only to see how Pa Ingles and Niccolo Paganini fit into the picture!

posted by Mike at 12:34 PM 0 comments


The Terrorists Have Already Won...

Received this message from a colleague [names changed for gratuitous linking opportunity]:

Jon, Mark and I really do appreciate the help you have been providing.

A number of weeks ago you mentioned a particular beer that you liked.

I wrote down the name and headed out to my local beer depot.

No luck.

Went to a larger beer depot. They carry hundreds of beers from all around the world.

No luck.

Decided on Plan B. Purchased 6 bottles of beer from 6 different countries.

Took 'em home and packed them up nicely (and safely).

Took them to my local post office (Menomonee Falls). Found the front door locked with a sign to step around back.

Stepped around the back and found a loading doc. Was told the Post Office moved 4 miles north.

Drove 4 miles north.

Waited in line 15 minutes.

Was told the U.S. postal services does not ship beer.....

Was told to use Brown (UPS). Asked where I could find this magic UPS, was told go 6 miles south.

Went 6 miles south and found the UPS Store.

Left there smiling, feeling confident that Mike would get his beer on the following Monday.

I left town for a few days.

Got back - 2 voices mails from UPS.

They are not allowed, by state law, to ship beer. Wisconsin is one of only two states that have this thoughtful law.

Was told to come and pick them up, or they would toss them (ya right).

Was told I needed to go to the distribution center in Brookfield. OK, I can do that.

Wednesday at 5:30 I get another call from UPS, one of the bottles has broken. Do I still want the beer?

OK - yes I tell them, I want my 5 bottles of beer back.

Tonight, after work, I set out on a new adventure - reclaiming 5 bottles of beer.

Next time your in town, I've got 5 bottles of beer you can stick in your carry-on.....

Like they say - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished....


What is this world coming to, when a man cannot get a six pack of Wisconsin's finest shipped to his door?! Or maybe it's God's way of helping me observe Lent properly...

posted by Mike at 7:45 AM 4 comments